Colorado Avalanche: Can They Close Out the Series in Calgary?

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 13: Colorado Avalanche Right Wing Mikko Rantanen (96) skates with the puck over the blue line as Calgary Flames Defenceman Travis Hamonic (24) defends his zone during the first period of Game Two of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs where the Calgary Flames hosted the Colorado Avalanche on April 13, 2019, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - APRIL 13: Colorado Avalanche Right Wing Mikko Rantanen (96) skates with the puck over the blue line as Calgary Flames Defenceman Travis Hamonic (24) defends his zone during the first period of Game Two of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs where the Calgary Flames hosted the Colorado Avalanche on April 13, 2019, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The  Colorado Avalanche could clinch a second-round appearance with a victory today. But it won’t be easy.

The Colorado Avalanche face a paramount game today. They are playing the Flames in Calgary. A victory would propel Colorado into the second round since they lead the series 3-1.

That’s right. The eighth-seeded team, the team that squeaked into the playoffs, could upset the second-best NHL team, the winners of the Western Conference. In other words, they could go all Columbus Blue Jackets on people’s brackets. And it would be historic:

That’s what you call a big-stage game. Not Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, but pretty darn big just the same.

For once, stats are on our side:

But it’s no guarantee. Colorado can’t walk into the Calgary Saddledome expecting an easy victory. Teams don’t just roll over and die, Tampa Bay notwithstanding. So, let’s look at some keys to tonight’s all-important game.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: April 19, 8:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude, NBCSN, CBC
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5)

Keep Shellacking Smith

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The Calgary Flames’ Mike Smith is not a bad goalie. I wish he was. I wish he was the Mike Smith of the regular season, who recorded a .898 save percentage and 2.73 goals against average. But this is playoffs Mike Smith, he of the .942 save percentage and 2.05 GAA.

Rude. But, the Colorado Avalanche have found a way to prevail by shellacking him with shots. Through the four games, they’ve bombarded him with 161 shots. In the last two games alone, he’s had to face 108 shots to Philipp Grubauer’s 66.

Yeah, that’s almost 2:1, and that’s how Colorado is winning this series so far. Just keep putting pucks on net, and good things will happen.

Suffocate Johnny Hockey

I’m not suggesting anyone place a pillow on Johnny Gaudreau’s face… unless you’d be ok with that.

No, seriously, the Colorado Avalanche have already been doing a good job of neutralizing the threat the Johnny Hockey poses. He’s a fast, athletically-gifted player with a lethal breakaway.

And so far the Avs have limited him to one assist. His counterpart, Nathan MacKinnon, has three goals and two assists. Let’s keep that ratio alive for Game 5, and we just might see victory.

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The Colorado Avalanche players have remarked that just making the playoffs isn’t enough this year. They want to win. Well, they can do so. It won’t be easy, but they can definitely sent the Calgary Flames players off to the golf courses.